Singapore Cup • December 10, 2023
Lion City Sailors Triumphant in 2023 Singapore Cup Final
Lion City Sailors are the 2023 Singapore Cup Champions
SINGAPORE, 10 DECEMBER 2023 – History was made at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night as Lion City Sailors emerged victorious in a pulsating 2023 Singapore Cup final, defeating defending champions Hougang United 3-1. The Sailors secured their maiden Singapore Cup trophy in the club’s history, captivating the 2,296 spectators in attendance with a scintillating display of dominant football.
After an even opening period, Sailors took the lead in the 27th minute through a Richairo Živković’s spot-kick after Hougang’s Naoki Kuriyama was adjudged to have handled the ball in the penalty box. Referee Andrea Verolino stuck to his original decision even after consultation with the Video Assistance Referee (VAR) and the Curacao international calmly slotted in the penalty past Hougang custodian Zaiful Nizam. Despite feeling hard done by the decision, Hougang was hoping to regroup going into the interval before misfortune struck twice for them and especially Kuriyama. Recently crowned Singapore Premier League Player of the Year Maxime Lestienne went on a mazy run down the right wing before unleashing a shot that beat a hapless Zaiful via a wicked deflection of the Japanese centre-back to make it two goals to nil for the Sailors as the first 45 minutes concluded.
The second half started in the same vein as Sailors seized the initiative to put the game to bed. However, it was not until the 81st minute when substitute Shawal Anuar came on and scored his side’s third goal to virtually get the celebrations started among the Sailors supporters. A late headed goal by Kazuma Takayama proved to be a mere consolation for the Cheetahs as they relinquished the Cup after the final whistle was blown.
Lion City Sailors in action in the 2023 Singapore Cup Final
Aleksandar Rankovic, the jubilant head coach of Lion City Sailors, expressed his elation after the historic victory despite several challenges: “I know it was not easy for the team with a change of coaches midway through the season and having to play in three different competitions aside from National team commitments, and I truly feel this cup win is the cherry on top and I am really delighted for the club and players – we deserve it.”
Lion City Sailors’ captain Hariss Harun in action in the 2023 Singapore Cup Final
Man of the Match Hariss Harus was pleased with adding the Singapore Cup to his list of achievements and praised his team’s performance throughout the season while paying tribute to the amazing support shown by the Sailors fans: “It’s a massive achievement for the club and I feel we deserved to win this trophy after a tough season. The fans have been great all season long and I’m glad that we could give them something to cheer about with this cup win.”
Defending champions Hougang faced disappointment in their bid to achieve back-to-back cup success in their second consecutive Singapore Cup final appearance. Head coach Marko Kraljevic, while acknowledging the early setback, expressed optimism for the future: “Ever since I took over, it has been great working with the boys and I am very proud of what they have achieved this season despite the obvious disappointments. We aim to do better next season.”
Hougang United’s Marko Kraljevic and Lion City Sailors’ Aleksandar Rankovic in the 2023 Singapore Cup Final
Earlier in the day, Tampines Rovers secured third place by defeating Brunei DPMM in a straightforward 2-0 encounter at the same venue. Goals by Boris Kopitovic and Faris Ramli in the first half settled the game early on while Brunei’s Muhammad Hakeme Yazid Said was dismissed in the 88th minute for picking up two yellow cards.
In the prize ceremony attended by Guest-of-Honour FAS Council Member Mr. Goh Tat Chuan, this year’s Singapore Cup champions Lion City Sailors were awarded the prestigious trophy and a prize of S$50,000. Hougang United, the runners-up, received S$30,000, while Tampines Rovers and Brunei DPMM were awarded S$20,000 and S$10,000, respectively for their third and fourth place finishes.
The 2023 Singapore Cup final concludes the domestic football season, following Albirex Niigata (S) winning their sixth Singapore Premier League title in eight years. Sailors’ triumph adds a new chapter to Singaporean football history, as they etched their name among the elite clubs to have lifted the coveted Singapore Cup.
2023 Singapore Cup final day match details
Third-placing match: Tampines Rovers FC 2-0 Brunei DPMM FC
Scorers: Boris Kopitovic 10′, Faris Ramli 31′ |
Final: Lion City Sailors FC 3-1 Hougang United FC
Scorers: Richairo Živković pen. 27’, Maxime Lestienne 42’, Shawal Anuar 81’ | Kazuma Takayama 90’+1